Efforts to Remove UPZ from the Israel on Campus Coalition Fail

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UPZ Vindicated

Efforts by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) to have the Union of Progressive Zionists expelled from the Israel on Campus Coalition - the umbrella organization encompassing pro-Israel groups working on campus - have failed.

During the Fall 2007, the UPZ, which is supported by Meretz USA, Ameinu, Habonim Dror, and Hashomir Hatzair, sponosored a tour of Breaking the Silence - a group of discharged Israeli soldiers critical of some IDF practices in the Palestinian territories. For this, the ZOA began its lobbying efforts. After meeting to discuss the issue, the ICC Steering Committee released a statement rejecting the ZOA's demand and reaffirming the ICC's commitment to open dialogue and freedom of thought.

Below, see the ICC statement as well as links to several articles detailing the controversy.

Statement of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) Steering Committee

January 22, 2007

The Steering Committee of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) met on Friday, January 19th, and considered the request by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) to remove the Union of Progressive Zionists (UPZ) from the Coalition for sponsoring “Breaking the Silence” on several college campuses. The Steering Committee weighed and considered three issues: (1) whether there is cause under the ICC membership criteria to remove UPZ from the Coalition; (2) whether the ICC should establish a mechanism to monitor the campus programming of ICC member organizations; and (3) whether the ICC’s membership criteria and founding mission statement should be revisited. The Steering Committee voted against each of these three steps -- against removing the UPZ from the Coalition; against creating a mechanism to monitor member organizations’ programming; and against revisiting the ICC’s membership criteria and mission statement.

At the same time, the Steering Committee -- on behalf of the ICC -- recommits itself to working collaboratively to promote a proactive, pro-Israel agenda on college campuses across North America, and to encouraging all member organizations to work with and respect all members of the coalition in the spirit of pluralism and cooperation that unites us, as indicated in the ICC membership criteria. Recognizing that the commonalities bringing us together are far greater than the differences that separate us, the Steering Committee calls on all ICC member organizations to support and promote the activities of the coalition and to continue educating and advocating on campus for a Jewish State of Israel within secure and recognized boundaries. The Steering Committee also encourages all ICC member organizations to continue to think carefully about the programming we bring to campus, and how that programming will affect the campus climate and students’ understanding of and support for Israel.

The Steering Committee wishes to thank all of those who have so thoughtfully weighed and commented on the issues at stake. In this vein, the Steering Committee pledges -- on behalf of itself and the Israel on Campus Coalition as a whole -- to maintain open lines of communication at all times, and to work proactively to foster dialogue both directly and collectively between ICC member organizations.

Jewish, Palestinian groups sponsor IDF soldier critical of Israel

"In what was said to be an unprecedented move, Jewish and Palestinian advocacy groups on the Princeton University campus joined hands on Nov. 19 to host an Israeli soldier critical of his government’s military actions in the West Bank."

Read the article in the New Jersey Jewish News.

Is tough love for Israel still love? Question splits a campus group

"The Zionist Organization of America is spearheading an effort to have a left-wing group expelled from a pro-Israel consortium for its sponsorship of a program that brings Israeli army veterans to college campuses to speak about alleged army abuses.

In a letter sent last week to the executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, ZOA National President Morton Klein said the program, Breaking the Silence, “promotes outright falsehoods” and is at odds with the coalition’s mission of promoting a positive image of Israel on college campuses..."

Click here for the full article in the JTA.

Drawing Red Lines

"Even as college students enjoy their winter break, a nasty feud has erupted over Israel activism on campus. As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports on Page 6, the right-wing Zionist Organization of America is pushing for the left-wing Union of Progressive Zionists to be booted from the main umbrella body for pro-Israel groups on campus. At issue is the UPZ’s sponsorship of several campus appearances by Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers who speak about abuses by the Israeli army in the territories. The ZOA argues that the program clearly hurts Israel’s image. The Progressive Zionists counter that Israel and the Jewish community benefit from looking honestly at Israeli actions..."

Read the Forward Editorial.

Taking Sides

"You know the classic definition of chutzpa: A man who murders his mother and father begs for mercy because he is an orphan.

"Here’s a 21st-century version: A Jewish activist who has spent the past few years questioning the wisdom and actions of Israel’s government demands that another Jewish critic of Israel be silenced for being, well, critical of Israel."

Read the full article in the New Jersey Jewish News.

On Campus: Crushing Dissent from Pro-Israel, Anti-Occupation Students

"One would think that if it's kosher for anyone to discuss the occupation, it would be Israeli soldiers who have served in the territories.

Not true. Mort Klein, head of the tiny far-right Zionist Organization of America is now trying to get UPZ kicked out of the Israel Campus Coalition, the pro-Israel apparatus on campus which includes the main Jewish student organization, Hillel.

Klein says he will only stop his effort to expel UPZ if UPZ agrees not to bring over more anti-occupation Israeli soldiers.

Pretty funny. A right-wing Jewish bureaucrat in Philadelphia is trying to suppress the speech of IDF vets. But that is the way things are in the center-right and far right edges of the pro-Israel community..."

Read the blog by MJ Rosenberg.

I Witness the Israel Lobby in Action

"A few weeks back at Columbia, I watched with amazement as the former Israeli soldier Yehuda Shaul, who started the group Breaking the Silence, gave his presentation on the horrors of the occupation to about 75 students in a darkened hall. My amazement had to do with the fact that Shaul's visit was sponsored by a largely-Jewish group at Columbia—Pro-Israel Progressives—and was attended by members of the Hillel chapter at the school. Kudos to them..."

Click here to read the blog by Phil Weiss.

ZOA Goes Gunning for UPZ

"Morton Klein has made a career for himself by virulently attacking criticism of Israel on the Left. Yet as director of the Zionist Organization of America, Klein has himself become one of the most vociferous American critics of Israel on the Right. Under his stewardship, the ZOA has loudly and publicly opposed any and all Israeli peace efforts of the last decade, including Oslo, Camp David, the Road Map and the Gaza disengagement..."

Click here for the Jew School blog.